The Playgoer: "Playing to the Puritans"

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Monday, April 03, 2006

"Playing to the Puritans"

Speaking of the rampant "postponement" (there, I won't say the c-word) of various plays in high schools, I recommend Mark Acito's op-ed, "Playing to the Puritans" in today's Times.

As I remarked earlier in Comments to a reader who excused such acts of censorship-lite as an analog to NYTW...I'm against doing this in schools. But at least there, you do have the excuse of protecting "the children." Is that really how NYTW wants to be seen as treating its audience?


Aaron Riccio said...

Well, I mean, why not? It seems that once we've exhausted our exhortations against video games, music videos, movies, television, and even the news itself, it would only make sense to begin attacking the theater. The only reason its taken this long is that, unfortunately, not enough people go to see plays, and those who do don't exactly fall into the youthful age group. Most of the people I know to take advantage of student discounts are using elapsed IDs, and early programs like Hi-5 or even this new thing that Roundabout's doing for people under 35 . . . do they really work to expose new people to theater? Does even a cultural event like "Free Theater" (which happened last year in three major cities, NY excluded of course) manage to bring in and sustain new theatergoers?

I digress, of course. Censorship in schools, especially when paradoxical (okay to read, not okay to perform) is shameful. I do agree that the school has a moral obligation to perhaps issue a disclaimer or a rating to parents, detailing specifically what will be in the show, but the neat thing about theatrical truth is that if you're willing to compromise, it shouldn't be too hard to soften the innuendo if it's really that abhorrent.

The fact remains though; school plays are what got me involved in outside theater, mostly because of the risks that we were encouraged to take. And with all the "risk-taking" (to put it mildly) that goes on in middle schools today, I would think "The Crucible" is the least of your problems.

Anonymous said...

Please post and/or forward the following--thank you!

The Department of Theatre
Barnard College, Columbia University

invites you to a panel discussion:


Friday, April 7 at noon
Minor Latham Playhouse, 118 Milbank Hall

Moderator: Shawn-Marie Garrett, Assistant Professor of Theatre,
Barnard College, Columbia University


MARVIN A. CARLSON, Sidney E. Cohn Distinguished Professor of Theatre
and Comparative Literature, Ph.D. Program at the City University of
New York

JOHN HEILPERN, theatre critic, "New York Observer," Adjunct
Assistant Professor, Columbia School of the Arts

GREGORY MOSHER, theatre director and Director, Columbia University
Arts Initiative


ALISA SOLOMON, journalist, theatre critic, and Director, Arts and
Culture M.A., Columbia School of Journalism

KELLY STUART, playwright and Lecturer in Playwriting, Columbia
School of the Arts

"My Name Is Rachel Corrie," a play adapted from the letters of the
young American activist killed in Gaza in 2003 by an Israeli
bulldozer, was slated to open on March 22 at the highly respected
New York Theatre Workshop, home of "Rent." Then NYTW decided to
postpone the opening indefinitely, sparking an international

This panel seeks to explore the wider issues the "Rachel Corrie"
postponement raises: questions about political theatre in New York,
funding for the arts, the role of marketing and donor relations to
programming, and the representation of the Middle East on the
American stage.

Reservations are not necessary. For more information, please contact
Jessica Brater at: or (212) 854-2079.